By James Spencer for THE CHRISTIAN POST
As lawmakers discuss the regulation of social media, algorithms have rightly become a focal point. Algorithms are crucial to the business models used by ad-based digital platforms. In part, algorithms are important because they allow social media platforms and search engines to organize the massive amounts of content available on the internet. Certain social media algorithms have been identified as “malicious.” There is mounting evidence that certain social media platforms privilege anger-inducing content.
While the specific challenges represented by digital media platforms are unique, the influence of media forms is not new. As Neil Postman notes, “. . . how we are obliged to conduct such conversations will have the strongest possible influence on what ideas we can conveniently express. And what ideas are convenient to express inevitably become the important content of a culture.” Postman’s insight regarding the relationship between medium and message should alert us to a simple fact: regulation of social media is massively important, but not ultimately important.